“Author of text: Željko Petrović”

And finally came 1008. It was 03.15am when we begin the road to Thassos, the end station Potos. The road through Serbia I know by heart and in no time we arrived at the border at our “former brothers” who call themselves Macedonians. Their customs officer, whether because of drowsiness, whether for something else, barely gave us the look.

The drive through Macedonia was just as easy, just go straight and that’s it. In no time we found ourselves on the Macedonian-Greek border, we are pumping gas, as there are no gas stations on the road to Thassos. As soon as we crossed the border and entered Greece, I started thinking about starting a GPS. I knew the road to Halkidiki and about one part of the road to Thassos, but I did not want to risk it. Since I own the old type of GPS navigation that sounds like: “Wifey, wake up and watch the show “SAT” not to get on the wrong track”. The wifey wakes up and opens a newspaper with photos from entering Greece and to Thassos. It began, the staring to the newspaper at the signs near the road, and it was OK.
We went through all the way it was written. But, we almost missed turning point for Keramoti (GPS fell asleep). In a fraction of a second, I saw the exclusion mark and stopped, I had to reset GPS: “Wife, wake up, we went to Turkey”. GPS reset and we were on the right track again. Turn around here, go there and get to Keramoti. We got into a circular course and made a line for loading on the ship. Around us, everyone were waving, yelling and in a hurry. I went to buy tickets in the shop and one lady asked me what car do I have, I did not want to lie, so I told the truth. When I saw how much she charged me, I regret that I did not tell her that I have some smaller car.

We loaded ourselves in the boat and rushed on the deck to admire and to take photos. I watched some photos of my friends feeding seagulls, so I tried to do that as well. Only when one approached me, I saw that it was not some kind of harmless bird, but a bird of prey who would cut off my fingers. Oh go away from me, you sea chicken, I will not feed you.

We continued our way to the final destination along the bend, uphill and downhill by the highest heat, the A/C cools, but the children are hot. As I am still physically stronger than them, they gave up their intention to bite my ears from nerves, so they started to fight each other, and in addition to the already existing volcano, another one awoke, so at that moment I had two eruptions of the volcano nervousness.
On the way, we passed the various towns of Panagia, Skala Potamia, Kinira, Loutra, Astris, and various beaches: Golden Beach, Kinira, Paradise Beach, Aliki, Psiliamos, but somehow it seemed like we will never get to Potos. Oh, thank God, thank you Holy Parascheva, and thank you my Mazda who brought us. I have to buy you the best Shell fuel.

Since I’m famous Scrooge, I did not want to spend phone credit and call the owners of accommodation, so I decided to look for them according to the description, of course, my GPS (wifey) was there to help me. We found the landmark 1 (church), after the church street on the right, but oh no, we continued straight and we reached the exit from Potos. Turn the car and all from the beginning. We arrive at the intersection and see Point 2 (Amusement Park) and Point 3 (Path to Teologos), so we turned and went to the path of Theologos. GPS works impeccably, the eyes are working as if they entered the store with enormous discounts, they spotted the Point 4 (bridge with a single shield), we go further and finally see the Point 5 (the villa Düsseldorf) and right across the street was our accommodation - finally.

I park the car and knock on the door, one small old guy opens and stars at me, I’m trying English, but nothing, I’m trying Serbian, get away man, I give up and I go on. I go into the yard and meet the grandmother. She looks at me, I watch her and I repeat: “YA NNI, YA NNI S”. She raised her finger and called me to follow her. We come to the door and she yells: “STAVROOO!” What the heck, I need YANNI, granny, Yanni. A nice gentleman comes out and in solid English (later he told us that his wife is from Scotland) he asked what the problem is. I told him that we had come from Serbia and I mentioned a friend through whom we booked accommodation, he translates, the grandmother nods and leads me to my bungalow. I jump for joy and run to the rest of the family.

We enter the spacious bungalow and look around. Will we manage to find a way through this huge space? So far we have always traveled through various agencies and they have always convinced us that the box-matches of the units in which we were housed are, in fact, spacious apartments ideal for families, and that they are bigger than 60 m². The fact that you have to stand on the bed while cooking coffee or lunch is actually an open classroom where a young man learns how the summering through agency looks. And now after so many nights of sleeping like sardines, we have to sleep everyone in their bed (not auxiliary) and my wifey (my GPS) and I have a spacious double bed and everyone has their own room - JUST AWFUL. Where did the rotten west go? We have come here to get together, not to sleep comfortably (don’t we have that at home?). Where are our agencies to charge us insanely and to put us in some rabbit hole? When I think about it, they charge us for family reunion and bringing parents closer to the children. How else would I know that my kids have such a strong foot kick? Could I ever sleep with one child over myself and someone’s foot in my mouth? NEVER. This was made possible by our agencies, I’m not going to mention them in order to stop you of making the same mistake as I did.

But let’s get back to the bungalow. My wife and I choose a locked room, not because of those things that fall into your mind, but because of my personal security, I was fearing that my younger child will not save me from all the pain of travel and wandering in the heat when I sink in a hard dream. We got our things, we put on our bathing suites and then we run to find the beach. After little walking we found the public beach, not bad, though not as beaches of Chalkidiki, but we’ll see. We swam a little (just to clean all that sweat from the road), and get back in bungalow to shower, and later we hit the city to see what it has and how much it requires money. The city is small, tight, with a lot of people, crowded. That’s it, go to sleep and get a well-deserved break, tomorrow, we have to wake up early to go to the beach.

The first morning. Of course Dad got up first early, I make coffee for myself (my wife does not drink it), drink and watch the environment. I sipped two cups of coffee and went to the bakery to buy empty breakfast bowls, to buy some time before the youngsters decide what they want to eat for breakfast. The wife gets up, she’s preparing sandwiches. We wake kids, prepare them for the beach, suntan first, then they prepare the beach requisites: buckets, scoops, mattresses. All in all, we need 2 donkeys for all the equipment, and those noble animals are mum and dad.
We share the goods with each other and hit to the beach. Upon arriving I throw a load on the sand and begin preparing the family nest. First - placement of the parasols (at least half of it so the wind won’t take it), then spread the rugs. I did not have to blow mattresses because of one Greek guy on gas station that took pity on me and blow them with compressor. I already mentioned that I’m a Scrooge so why not save extra cash. My umbrella, my rugs, I do not have to spend my money on that, the children will have to wash my cars after returning to Serbia for their usage. Hehehe, a good plan, I will not have to pay for car wash, and I can also complain to them about the quality of the car wash and get them back to fix the mistakes.

We pulled everything out of the bags, set it up and let’s eat breakfast until the beach is full. As soon as we get to sandwiches, the axes were flying around us. Oh just go away, we do not have enough for us, let alone for you. We were eating everything under pressure because it was not clear who was eating whom there, we sandwiches or axes us. As we finished up with a meal, we run into the water, beautiful, clean, transparent water - you could see even the fish. I get in the water and I was very happy to see a beautiful little fish that swim around my legs. And all of a sudden, AAAAAAAA those lovely little fish began to bite, why did I even went into the water my God, I started to eat something and the axes came, and I came to cool myself and here comes the beasts dressed in the hands of beautiful and nice fish. Wonderful start, first a seagull on the ferry that was about to eat my finger, then axes who wanted to eat me and my breakfast, and the fish that started from my feet, terribly, luckily I agreed with the granny about the price of the accommodation so she will not remove skin from my back. Ah, but my family remains, who will pull a little skin off my back, and then I’ll whine how I have no money, so I guess that they will spend less money (it’s crisis, what shall we do). But we will not let it go, we decided to enjoy and that’s it.

We adjusted on that axes-creatures as well as we could although they bit my wife 2x and both times she watched me as I go like she was in doubt that I bribed some Greek to send axes to her, she knew that I have her picture in my wallet so she had her doubts. When she was reassured that I have nothing to do with that, she relaxed. We outsmarted fish changing beaches, but we couldn’t find isolated space (I wonder if they had some kind of secret agents or something like that), as soon as I grab something to eat - there they are,the axes, like they were waiting for me round the corner laughing.

The days went peacefully till our children started arguing in the middle of the beach. I gave it a lot of thought, how I should react, if I should use old good way, or if I should obey the country that I’m in and who is the part of EU - and in EU they don’t know for old fashioned way (the beating stick came from heaven), but only for new way - communication. I turned around and saw one Greek who applied the old way :). Oh, I love this country, they always had a way of connecting the tradition with new age. So you start talking reasonably at first and then you take a beating stick. I even thought about how we should just go back in Serbia, that’s how angry I was with them, but I waited to return to bungalow. The entrance in bungalow was little bit painful for the butts of youngsters, but no biggie.
I respect the rules of EU and I talked with my children but i also respect the tradition so they got a little spanking.
Out of nowhere the children understood that you can play nicely with brother or sister and yes, I told them that they should do so for the next 15 days. Since we were the only Serbs in whole resort (2 bungalows and big villa wit apartments) they didn’t have other kids around to keep them company so they were “sentenced” to each other.
And so, according to old Serbian proverb “the beating stick came from heaven” with 2 butt kicks the peace and harmony returned to our family.

Later on everything went just fine, brother and little sis are playing and love each other, mum and dad are proud, the vacation is prolonged, it’s 15 days now. One afternoon came Yannis (son of the owner, young man of 40-45 year) and he called us on a diner. He grilled and I brought raki so cold that it was a real pleasure to drink it. He tried it and started crying: “Strong, too strong” and in Serbian! Oh well you’ll speak Serbian till the end of the evening, my friend, I thought to myself. Stop nagging, this is not strong, what would you do if you tried some really strong raki, apple quince raki is soft, it melts in mouth, it is gift from God. He hardly drank one cup. To show him that what he is drinking is of best quality, I spilled a little amount of it in BBQ fire and that went…oh well, and my Greek brother started yelling and crying how that is too strong fire for the meat. The dinner was thick, as our christian confession requests, and it lasted till late in night. The days were passing by and our vacation was near to its end.

The last day, after our morning swim, we decided to go to city beach so I could, when children go to swim, to wash the car from all the dust from road trip. I waited for granny to go to nap,and I took hose for watering to quickly wash the car before she returns. But I didn’t have luck, as I was finishing, the granny showed up. Well, you are screwed now, she didn’t took you much money for stay, now she will rip your skin cause you spent drinking water on your car. I was waiting breathless for her to say something (she could have told anything she wanted, I don’t understand Greek). She approached, she’s speaking something, watching the car and I got that she actually was telling me that I missed some spots and that she wants to make me to do the better job, like officer in army. Oh granny, I did that not to spend so much of your precious water and not to make the international incident because of it, and you are commanding me, I smiled and told her that it’s ok, kids will wash it again when we return to home (they should repay the use of rugs and umbrellas).

I prepared the car, in the evening we packed our bags and in the dawn I went to the local chapel and lit candles in front of fresco of St. Nicholas so he keeps us safe during the trip. Later I went to buy bred for lunch-packets and I woke the family up, because we had the road ahead of us. We agreed earlier that we will in returning go in Cosmo in Thessaloniki to check the big discounts so we went early in the morning in Limenas to catch a ferry boat.
We kissed with the owners, exchanged addresses, and hit the road.
We arrived at Limenas and I went to buy tickets but with serious plan to lie and save a euro or two. The lady asked me what car do I drive and as I was just about to tell her that is is Mazda 3, but she peeked through the small window and she saw that the Mazda is x bigger than the one that I wanted to mention, so I paid again the full price, bummer.

We got on a ferry and slowly on the deck, the family went by foot while I’m driving (these are the rules). I got on deck, and it started trembling so much that it gave me chills. I know that with Yanni I drank half a beer last night and with a grandmother half more and that’s it, the quince was not on menu. I found the rest of the family and shyly asked my wifey: “Is it just rocking under my feet, am only I seasick, or are you as well?” If it’s only me, than that beer was no good. Should I go to WC and throw up or should I wait for ferry to leave the port so I can throw up over the fence.
My wife calmed me, she told that it’s really rocking and that I should look through the window, it was obvious that everything was upside down. So I gathered my kids who already changed face color to green and I explained to them that it is very similar feeling when you drank all night and after you feel sick and dizzy, but you are not sick from alcohol but from strong coffee which you drank in the end (from my personal experience). Every time when I drank all night in a good company with folk music and drank coffee in the end, I was always sick after. My kid took a bred so he can feed the flying monsters, I advised him not to do that if he want to keep all fingers, but to throw bred and let the best win.

We didn’t say to Thassos neither goodbye nor farewell but adios (and who knows when and who knows where - the Serbs will understand this). Somehow we reached the other side, the Keramoti, and we continued to Thessaloniki, the road that leads to airport Macedonia - right there is Cosmo.
We found the shopping mall but we couldn’t find the parking spot, everything was full. We made rounds and rounds and finally we found a sport. We parked car and filled with shopping enthusiasm and will to buy quality clothes cheep we went inside, my wifey had well rested legs and she was ready to hit the mall. We are there, Cosmo is there, Scrooge in me has left the building and said - Wife, children, you can buy anything you like as long as it’s cheap, now it’s your opportunity.

We went in the hall. Run to the first store, on shop window is a sign SALE. Oh, it’s something for us. So, we went inside, and there - one price crossed, other is written; and that other was W O W. They most certainly didn’t make discounts, it was said that everything was half the price and inside we couldn’t find the shirt cheaper than 40e. Walk, walk, walk, and still nothing. Kids bought some toys (not cheap, I would never bought them something with that price in Serbia, but oh well), I bought some shorts and shirt (price was better than in Serbia, and it was branded stuff), and my wife nothing, sad but true.

We had a lunch and hit the road again, although we didn’t wanted to, knowing that at home we have problems and problems… On vacation we were alone and dedicated to each other, and in Serbia we are exposed to some trouble that we had even before the vacation. I will be guilty, as usual, for everything, because I am me. But oh well, we have about 400 photos, we will watch them and remember nicer days, with hope that the next year we will repeat vacation.